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La Rocque, Gene

La Rocque, Gene (1918–), naval officer, founder of the Center for Defense Information.Born in Kankakee, Illinois, commissioned in the naval reserve (1940), La Rocque served thirty‐one years on active duty, participating in thirteen major battles in the Pacific during World War II. His postwar career included a variety of ship commands and seven years in the Strategic Plans Directorate of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

Retiring in 1972 and disillusioned over the Vietnam War, La Rocque established the Center for Defense Information as source of critical information on military spending and policies. Staffed by retired military officers, the center opposes excessive spending and encourages efforts to prevent nuclear war, believing that social, economic, political, and military structures contribute equally to national security. It also publishes The Defense Monitor, founded in 1972.

La Rocque and his colleagues testified before Congress, appeared frequently in the media, and consulted many national and international political leaders. In the 1980s, La Rocque founded a weekly public affairs television program, America's Defense Monitor.

La Rocque's stature as a “peace admiral” won him praise from peace leaders and hostility from military ones. In August 1983, 575 retired admirals, led by former chairman of the JCS Thomas Moorer, placed an advertisement in The Washington Times criticizing La Rocque for appearing on Soviet television. La Rocque refused to yield to Cold War animosities, however, and organized ground‐breaking meetings between retired military officers in the United States and the Soviet Union. In August 1985, he was credited with playing a significant role in persuading Mikhail Gorbachev, to declare a moratorium on nuclear testing. La Rocque retired from the center in 1993.
[See also Nuclear War, Prevention of Accidental.]


Michael N. Harbottle , Introduction, Generals for Peace and Disarmament: A Challenge to U.S./NATO Strategy, 1984.
Herbert Mitgang , Sentinel: Gene Robert La Rocque, The New Yorker, 6 October 1986, pp. 88–103.

David Cortright

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